Well, this escalated quickly, all 3 certified Microsoft Cloud Video Interop vendors are now offering some form of free channel offer.
All of the below is to the best of my knowledge/understanding, friends at Poly, Pexip and BlueJeans feel free to correct me or provide additional insights.
Poly Cloud Video Interop for Microsoft Teams Offer
Poly is offering a single free subscription (channel) on their cloud service until 30th June 2020, per qualifying endpoints customers already own or buy new from the following:
- Polycom RealPresence Group Series (300, 310, 500, 700 Series)
- Poly G7500
- Polycom Trio 8800 or 8500 with Visual+ or Visual Pro
More details here
Pexip Cloud Cloud Video Interop for Microsoft Teams Offer
Pexip is offering two concurrent call connections (channels) when you buy any new Microsoft Teams Room or Surface Hub 2 (purchased on or after July 1st 2019). This is limited to a maximum of one per customer, so 2 free channels, for 12 months. More details here: https://www.pexip.com/free-cvi
BlueJeans Cloud Video Interop for Microsoft Teams Offer
Bluejeans offer is not tied to any particular device or new device sale. For organizations fewer than 1000 employees, 12 months of 2 concurrent connections. For organizations greater than 1000 employees, 12 months of 5 concurrent connections (channels).
Also, BlueJeans offer their Command Center for central management, reporting and insights for 12 months. Which is odd because as far as I am aware it actually does nothing for CVI (anyone please correct me if I’m wrong there).
More details here: https://www.bluejeans.com/free-microsoft-gateway-offer
Why are all the Microsoft certified vendors offering free channels?
They are all offering some starter channels to get you started and hopefully convert you to buying more channels of their services. Poly is also keen to keep selling their standards-based endpoints and this sweetens the deal for customers using Microsoft Teams (though Microsoft would prefer to position a Microsoft Certified Teams Room which Poly also offer). Two or five channels is a good starting point to trial the solution, but in any customer with reasonable video usage and more than a couple of standards-based rooms is likely to need more concurrent channels at peak times. Still, free is always nice.
Are there any catches with these free CVI offers?
Obviously, they all have a limited number of channels so that’s a consideration They are also time-limited so think about the total cost moving forward.
What about “one-click to join/one button to join” on standards-based systems?
Poly include a “one-click to join/one button to join” experience on standards-based endpoints, the slight gotcha is their one click to join only appears to work for Poly CVI
BlueJeans charge extra for “one-click to join/one button to join, so without it, your standards-based endpoints users will be dialling a complex set of digits and IP’s, FQDN’s manually, for example, “email@example.com” which might not be the best user experience.
For Pexip you would need to add Synergy Sky for Cisco, Poly, Lifesize, Yealink etc to have a Join button or auto-dial out.
What is Cloud Video Interop (CVI) for Microsoft Teams?
Cloud Video Interop (CVI) is the name for Microsoft certified third-party gateway services that allow standards-based room video systems to join Microsoft Teams meetings. They do this by inserting additional “dial in” details to a meeting invite to allow standards-based systems to connect via the CVI providers gateway service. Some will also enable “click to join” on standard room systems.
Without CVI there is no way for standards-based video endpoints to join Microsoft Teams meetings
Why would I need Cloud Video Interop (CVI) for Microsoft Teams?
Often enterprises have existing standards-based room systems that will need to join Teams meetings. People external to the organisation (customers, partners) may also want to connect to your Microsoft Teams meeting via a standards-based video system. Microsoft would encourage you to move to Microsoft Teams rooms, but for a lot of customers, that is a journey.
How does Cloud Video Interop work?
Each user you enable will get video join details added to their invites. The licencing from the CVI vendors caps the number of concurrent connections rather than the number of “enabled users” (those with the details added to their invites).
How do the services compare?
Graham Walsh from Pexip has a great comparison of the services on his blog here. Yes, you could consider him potentially biased but it seems like a fair fact-based comparison.
Microsoft Cloud Video Interop for Microsoft Teams here